The Undomestic Goddess

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The Perfect Little House, Toronto, September 2013

The Perfect Little House, Toronto, September 2013

I’m not exactly Martha Stewart material. I suck at proper etiquette, home improvement projects leave me speechless (“How do they do that? And WHY?”), I don’t get Pinterest and I can’t pair wine with food for the life of me.

I’m the undomestic goddess.

Don’t think I’m a spoiled princess. I used to do what needed to be done in terms of household chores. Feng and I have always taken informal turns doing dishes, the laundry and so on. Overall, housekeeping was easy.

So when did Swiffer become my best friend? How did turn into that woman who think Mr. Clean’s Magic Eraser is a gift to mankind? And how on earth did I manage to memorize the model of my vacuum filter?

Oh, right. Mark.

I’m not sure whether it’s just us—please tell me it’s not—but the house became 100% dirtier and messier since we became a family of three.

I found myself with some free time the other day. Did I decide to have a glass of wine and relax? Nope. I embarked on a major quest: make the sticky kitchen floor unsticky again. I mopped, cleaned and even washed the soles of the slippers we use in the kitchen.

After putting the shoes outside for them to dry under the fall sun, I returned to the kitchen and admired the result. Ah ah! A clean, shiny, 100% non-sticky floor.

And then I looked at myself in the mirror. Seriously, is that something to gloat about? I mean, I’m pretty sure a few healthcare professionals saved lives while I was polishing that fucking floor.

More importantly, it will only stay clean for as long as Mark doesn’t come in the kitchen. Like, ever. Which is pretty hard to accomplish considering we don’t live in a mansion (and that we have a semi-open kitchen without a door).

I can’t complain. Mark is not a picky eater. He doesn’t fuss when trying new stuff. It’s just that when he is no longer hungry or when he is bored and wants us to pay attention, he holds whatever food we gave him and deliberately throws it to the floor from his highchair, as in discovering the power of gravity (well, I guess he is in a way). “Mark… non!” He knows he is not supposed to do it but he does it anyway. So I mop crumbs, pieces of bread, mashed banana, quarters of mandarins or Cheerios twice a day.

When you have a baby, you naturally need more stuff. Like, you know, baby clothes, diapers, a few toys, etc. Well, these items tend to magically 1) disappear when you need them 2) hide under furniture 3) trip you at nighttime 4) scattered themselves everywhere in the house.

“Feng…” I said the other day. “Do you think you could…I don’t know, stop leaving stuff everywhere around the house?”

“Like what?”

“Like that.” I pointed to the empty box of cereals on the kitchen table.

“The recycling box is full.”

“Or all the crap your parents bring.”

Oh oh. Dangerous territory.

See, my in-laws never come empty-handed. They bring stuff. “Stuff” is the nicest word I can use for what we end up with but never asked for. New clothes for Mark (never mind he already has four hats he won’t wear anyway). New toys (preferably easy to break or inappropriate for his age). Food (two boxes of moon cakes, really?). Blankets and bed sheets (because you know, we don’t have any and sleep on the bare—sticky—kitchen floor). Pile and piles of stuff on “special” at the supermarket that we don’t like or won’t have time to eat before it goes bad.

And I just love the passive-aggressive way they change Mark’s clothes entirely whenever they take care of him. But that’s another topic.

“Just ignore it” Feng advises. “They will bring stuff no matter what I say anyway. You’re fighting a lost battle.”

I know that. And honestly, my in-laws are pretty decent people, we just aren’t on the same page very often.

But I have to clean up all the stuff they bring and scatter everywhere in the house. I have to sort out what clothes Mark will actually wear (The pink Minnie shirt? Nope!) and give away the rest. I have to clean the kitchen, put the leftovers somewhere.

I feel like I spend my time putting stuff away, wiping, moping and vacuuming. “Don’t bother!” Feng says.

I know. It never ends. And I’m not even that picky.

It’s just that I like when the house is relatively clean and organized. It put my mind at ease.

I can’t help it. I became a semi-domestic Goddess.

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About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.

12 Comments

  1. Being Asian, I can say it: Asian houses are totally cluttered! I don’t know why it is, but collecting stuff is seen as a skill. It’s the opposite of Scandinavian minimalism: MORE MORE MORE.

    It’s like the Apocalypse is going to happen any day now and houses are bunkers for outliving everyone by means of storage. It’s kind of embarrassing, and there are times I’m acutely of aware of it.

    Can’t even attribute it to behaviour trickled down from war, because then Europeans would stockpile everything, too.

    • Yes, you are so right! I don’t know why either. Mind you, French like clutter too, it seems that everything has a history and is too precious to throw away.

      • I agreed on this one, especially old French people, they like to keep stuffs in their grenier. I’m the opposite, I like clutter free and I’m the one throwing (despite my husband’s protest).

        As with in laws, they gave me a lot of stuffs (hubby’s baby clothes). You know what, I returned whatever I don’t need and they are ok with it.

  2. Hey, a clean floor is worth being proud of! If it makes your mental state better, that positively affects your life and your family. Look in the mirror and feel accomplished. 🙂

  3. I totally get you (as most moms I guess!) Clean floor is a fantasy in our house but for the 5 minutes the clean floor lasts, I feel very proud!

    Like you, I am no Martha Stewart but since becoming a mom I am somehow more organized and cleaner.

    My son is so “funny” because anytime he finds something on the floor (cat hair, a crumb) he will pick it up and come to me and say “Mama, dirty!” He seems to be obsessed with cleaning (and clearly does not get it from me!)

    Little piece of advise: he loves to clean and use the swiffer broom when I am vacuuming so he actually has his own swifter broom from which we took one section out so the broom is more at his height and we actually uses it nearly every other day “looking for cat hair”. Once a week I change the sheet and he actually picks a lot up. Not as efficient as having an actual cleaning lady but it’s free!

    • Mark is also fascinated by the Swiffer broom (but he hates the vacuum!). I wish he could “help” too but so far no luck… he can eat anything on the floor too but I won’t let him “clean” it like that 😆

  4. It is definitely not you ! Since my sister had her kids, her house has ALWAYS been messy and dirty! My niece loves to smear food on her face and her highchair, which we used to constantly clean but now we just wait for at the end of the night or the weekend. Plus there are always clean and dirty clothes all around the house. The house is a mess, but an organized mess if it makes any sense. I like a clean and organized house too, but i guess i need to forget that dream when i have kids (maybe ?). P.S. = I think whoever invented Magic Eraser is a genius !!

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